Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) and Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) called for the chief executive of a troubled North Jersey veterans’ home to step down Monday.
“Knowing a resurgence of coronavirus later this year remains a threat, there must be accountability now for these documented failures. Our veterans and seniors deserve better,” they said in a joint statement. “We believe the Chief Executive Officer of the New Jersey Veterans Home in Paramus must resign.”
The lawmakers’ demand for Matthew Schottlander’s resignation comes after months COVID-19 deaths at the facility. Totaled, 81 residents of the Paramus facility died after contracting the virus, and more than 90% of the home’s residents’ had contracted the virus by late April.
A federal inspection conducted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services around that time found significant deficiencies at the Paramus home. All residents and staff were then in immediate jeopardy, the inspectors found.
“As the coronavirus swept through New Jersey, mismanagement and a lack of transparency at the state-run Paramus Veterans Home resulted in needless death and preventable tragedy,” Pascrell and Gottheimer said. “North Jersey was the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. In Paramus, the pandemic exposed the known deficiencies at the facility.”
The two congressman have long called for investigations into the veterans’ home’s handling of the pandemic, at one point securing federal staffing support to aid the beleaguered facility.
If Schottlander resigns, it would be the second major leadership shakeup the state’s veterans’ homes have seen in the past few months.
In late April, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark A. Piterski has resigned his post deputy commissioner for Veterans Affairs. The Paramus home fell under his purview, as did homes in Menlo Park and Vineland.
“The situation demanded transparency, honesty, cooperation, and competency. The response by those in charge at the Paramus Veterans Home did not meet this moment,” the congressmen said. “Worse, it set the facility up to fail and hindered response efforts.”